What is an HPE MSA?

The HPE MSA (Modular Smart Array) is a feature-rich, affordable, and easy-to-use storage system that is designed for affordable application acceleration and data protection for small and medium businesses (SMBs). It provides multi-protocol support and unified storage for file, block, object, and AWS-compatible S3 object workloads.


The HPE MSA is a line of entry-level and midrange storage area network (SAN) arrays designed for SMBs that need shared storage with built-in data protection features. The HPE MSA family includes the following models:

  • HPE MSA 1050 – Entry-level 2U 10Gb iSCSI array
  • HPE MSA 2050 – Midrange 2U 10/25Gb iSCSI/FC array
  • HPE MSA 2052 – Hybrid flash model of the MSA 2050

Key features of the HPE MSA line include:

  • Hybrid or all-flash configurations
  • Up to 25Gb performance with dual controller options
  • Data protection with snapshots, replication, encryption
  • Easy virtualization with VMware, Hyper-V, Kubernetes support
  • Unified file, block, object, and S3 access
  • Affordable pricing for SMB budgets

The HPE MSA provides unified storage across file, block, and object workloads. It supports multi-protocol access, allowing simultaneous file (NFS, SMB), block (iSCSI, FC), object (S3), and VMware VVOLs connectivity from a single system. The MSA operating system provides built-in data protection features like snapshots and asynchronous replication to another MSA or third-party array.

MSA Models and Specifications

The HPE MSA family includes all-flash and hybrid flash models to meet different performance and budget requirements:

HPE MSA 1050

  • 2U entry-level iSCSI SAN array
  • Up to 32 drives with SAS or MDL SAS options
  • Single or dual controller
  • 4 x 1GbE iSCSI host ports per controller
  • Up to 250,000 IOPS and 2GB/sec bandwidth

HPE MSA 2050

  • 2U midrange SAN array
  • Up to 96 drives with SAS, MDL SAS, NVMe options
  • Single or dual active-active controller
  • 8 ports per controller: 4 x 10GbE iSCSI and 4 x 16/32Gb FC
  • Up to 320,000 IOPS and 4800MB/sec bandwidth

HPE MSA 2052

  • Hybrid flash model of MSA 2050
  • NVMe SSD cache for hot data acceleration
  • SAS HDDs for colder data storage capacity
  • Up to 2.1M IOPS and 15GB/sec bandwidth
Model Max Drives Controllers Host Ports
MSA 1050 32 Single or dual 4 x 1GbE iSCSI per controller
MSA 2050 96 Single or dual active-active 8 ports per controller: 4 x 10GbE iSCSI + 4 x 16/32Gb FC
MSA 2052 96 Single or dual active-active 8 ports per controller: 4 x 10GbE iSCSI + 4 x 16/32Gb FC

Storage Media

The HPE MSA supports different drive types and RAID levels to balance price, performance and protection:

  • Hard disk drives (HDDs) – High capacity and low cost, available in 6G SAS or 12G SAS MDL interfaces. 7.2K and 15K RPM options.
  • Solid state drives (SSDs) – For performance, available with 12G SAS interface. Read-intensive and mixed-use endurance options.
  • NVMe SSDs – Ultra-fast acceleration, available in MSA 2050/2052 models. U.2 interface.

The MSA supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10 for data protection. RAID 5 and 6 provide distributed parity, while RAID 10 mirrors and stripes data. RAID 6 can sustain up to two drive failures without data loss.


The all-flash HPE MSA 2050 delivers up to 320,000 IOPS and 4800MB/sec throughput for demanding workloads. The hybrid HPE MSA 2052 with NVMe caching boosts performance up to 2.1 million IOPS and 15GB/sec.

The entry HPE MSA 1050 provides up to 250,000 IOPS and 2GB/sec bandwidth to meet basic performance requirements.

Dual active-active controllers provide high availability and load balancing by distributing I/O across paths and controllers. NVMe caches accelerate hot data while HDDs provide large capacities for colder data.

Key Features and Benefits

Here are some of the key features and benefits of the HPE MSA storage arrays:

Unified Shared Storage

  • Unifies file, block, object and VMware VVol storage access
  • Multi-protocol support allows concurrent FC, iSCSI, NFS, SMB, S3 connectivity
  • Simplifies storage management since one array can serve diverse apps

Virtualization Integration

  • Tight integration with virtualization platforms like VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, RedHat Virtualization, Nutanix and Kubernetes
  • vVols support enables per-VM storage management for VMware
  • VASA provider integrates with VMware for monitoring and analytics

Data Protection

  • Snapshots for local point-in-time copies
  • Asynchronous replication to another MSA or third-party array
  • Encryption for data-at-rest security
  • High availability with dual active-active controllers

Optimized for Flash

  • End-to-end NVMe support from host to storage to accelerate performance
  • Tiering optimizes hot data on NVMe SSDs and colder data on HDDs
  • Read-intensive and mixed-use flash options to lower costs

Easy Management

  • Built-in management via web browser and CLI
  • Intuitive storage provisioning and optimization wizards
  • Monitoring, analytics and phone home support capabilities
  • API access for integration with broader management ecosystems

Use Cases

Here are some typical use cases where the HPE MSA can provide good economic benefits:

Affordable Virtualization Storage

  • Tight integration with VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V
  • All-flash or hybrid configurations for optimal price/performance
  • Scale-up and scale-out options to add capacity and performance

Microsoft Applications

  • All-flash performance for demanding SQL Server databases
  • Cost-effective capacity for Microsoft Exchange email
  • Unified shared storage for Windows file serving

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

  • Unified NAS (NFS/SMB) and block (iSCSI/FC) storage
  • File replication for distributed access and disaster recovery
  • Snapshots and cloning for rapid deployment

Remote Offices

  • Affordable SAN arrays for remote/branch offices
  • Easy replication from central data centers
  • Local file services and backup target

Data Protection Storage

  • Backup target for primary storage
  • Alternative for entry tape libraries
  • Affordable disaster recovery solution


The HPE MSA is designed for easy management and administration. Capabilities include:

  • Built-in management – The MSA comes with a built-in management interface accessible via Web browser, CLI, and RESTful API.
  • Provisioning wizards – Guided storage provisioning and optimization wizards simplify complex tasks.
  • Monitoring and analytics – Real-time monitoring provides health status, performance metrics, and capacity analysis.
  • Automation integration – RESTful API enables integration with broader IT automation and management frameworks.
  • Virtualization management – Integration with platforms like vCenter Server simplifies management.

The MSA management interface provides health monitoring, performance reporting, capacity analysis, and configuration management capabilities. It enables IT generalists to easily deploy and manage shared storage without extensive training.

Licensing and Support

The HPE MSA comes with a 3-year warranty that includes telephone support and hardware replacement. Additional support coverage can be purchased separately.

The MSA requires the following licenses:

  • Base software license – Provides base OS capabilities like snapshots and replication.
  • Drive enclosure license – Required for each drive enclosure attached.
  • Premium software license – Adds advanced features like cloning, encryption, storage tiering.

The MSA starter bundles come with the base license, single enclosure license, and three years of support coverage. The premium software license can be added optionally.


The HPE MSA competes primarily against entry and midrange arrays targeted at SMBs, including:

  • Dell EMC PowerVault ME4 Series – iSCSI/FC arrays for SMBs
  • NetApp AFF A-Series – All-flash unified storage
  • Pure Storage FlashArray//C – NVMe all-flash affordable array

Compared to these competitors, the MSA often wins deals based on its unified storage capabilities, broad virtualization and ecosystem support, and affordable pricing. The MSA family provides a balance of price, performance and protection capabilities sized right for SMB environments.


The HPE MSA is a smart choice for SMBs that need an affordable, easy-to-use modular storage array with unified capabilities. Models like the all-flash MSA 2050 and hybrid MSA 2052 provide an optimal balance of flash performance and HDD economy for mixed workloads. Integration with virtualization and seamless data protection make the MSA family a versatile shared storage platform for SMB IT generalists.